Priesthood Sunday

Priesthood Sunday is observed the fourth Sunday in September, bringing together the entire parish to thank priests for their leadership.  Other Vocation Events are just as easy to celebrate.

Serra Participation

  • Serrans can participate in planning, organizing, and carrying out events.
  • Serrans may work with parish officials to support events.
  • Serra clubs can underwrite events.

Summary

Priesthood Sunday is traditionally observed the fourth Sunday in September.  It brings the entire parish together to thank the pastor and associate priests for their prayerful and spiritual leadership. Organizers are encouraged to start several months prior to each event.

Do not wait until a priest retires or is transferred to celebrate their service.  Like Father’s Day, let Priesthood Sunday be the one day a year when we make it a point to make priests feel truly appreciated and special

Program Outline

You can make your Priesthood Sunday observation as elaborate or as simple as you wish. From a special prayer service, to a feast, to a spiritual bouquet, to songs from children, your parish can tailor the event to suit their own style. Parish vocation ministries should take the lead in coordinating the celebrations.

Tips and Ideas for Priesthood Sunday in Your Parish:

Parish Bulletin

Promote Priesthood Sunday in your parish bulletin at least four weeks in advance with details about how parishioners can participate and what they can expect at Mass on that day.

On Priesthood Sunday, feature a photo of your pastor and resident priests on the cover of the parish bulletin along with some words of tribute collected from parishioners and a brief bio inside.

Include the pictures, names and contact information of pastors and other priests who have moved on to different parishes or who have retired so parishioners can keep in touch.

At Church

Print a special blessing for your priests in the parish bulletin or on cards distributed in the pews. Have the congregation extend their hands over the priests and recite the blessing in unison at the end of the service on Priesthood Sunday.

For a week or two leading up to Priesthood Sunday, leave cards and pens in the back of the church for parishioners to fill out with words of gratitude and tribute for your priests. Framed photos of priests labeled with their names is a nice touch (and a handy reminder for proper spelling). Don’t forget to include a box or basket to hold completed cards. These can be presented to the priests on Priesthood Sunday along with the collection, or assembled into a book.

Decorate the church with the Priesthood Sunday logo.

Kids Can Help, Too

Parish children can collaborate on a large scale mural, collage, or other artwork to honor their priests.

If your parish is attached to a school, part of religion classes leading up to Priesthood Sunday could be devoted to learning about priesthood: for example, the vestments, the priest’s role in the sacraments, etc. Younger children could benefit from free coloring pages found online (such as are found here and here).

Let the children interview priests during class time before they create cards or other art for him. They can ask him questions like, “What is your favorite color?” “What is your favorite food?” or “What do you love to do when you are not working?”

Older children can participate in an essay contest about the priesthood. The winning essay can be read aloud at Mass and/or printed in the bulletin.

Publicity

If your priest has a unique vocation story, pitch it to the local diocesan paper and see if they will write up an article to coincide with Priesthood Sunday.

Let your diocesan paper know what you are planning to do for Priesthood Sunday, and be sure to send them photos of the celebration.

Consider buying an advertisement in the diocesan paper with the photos and names of your parish priests along with the number of their years of service and an expression of gratitude.

Don’t Forget Retired Priests

Be sure to send gifts and wishes to priests who now live in retirement homes. Take them out for a meal or bring them back to the parish for Priesthood Sunday and whatever reception you may plan there after Mass.

Other Recognition

Several times a year, the Church provides opportunities for the faithful to celebrate vocations. Please see Tool 29 for more details and resources for these other vocation recognition celebrations:

  • Winter: World Day for Consecrated Life (First Sunday following February 2nd)
  • Spring: National Catholic Sisters Week (Second week of March)
  • Spring: World Day of Prayer for Vocations (Fourth Sunday of Easter)
  • Spring: Religious Brothers Day (May 1)
  • Fall: National Vocation Awareness Week (First full week of November)

Serra Participation

  • Serrans can participate in planning, organizing, and carrying out events.
  • Serrans may work with parish officials to support events.
  • Serra clubs can underwrite events.

Program History and Development

Priesthood Sunday is a more personal opportunity for parishes and organizations with priests or chaplains to recognize them.  It promotes and cultivates a close working relationships with the priests.  It is a special day to express gratitude for their sacrifice. It’s a chance to thank and honor priests in unique ways.

Note that the number of priests and ordinations in the United States has steadily declined in the past 50 years. Meanwhile, the number of parishes without a resident priest pastor has sharply increased in the same period of time.   The men who answer the call to priesthood are special indeed, and they are working harder than ever before.

Spring, Fall, Winter

Lead Time 6-9 months

f

High Effort

Medium Cost

Celebrating vocations is an important part of community life in the Church.

World Day of Prayer for Vocations, National Vocation Awareness Week, National Catholic Sisters Week, World Day for Consecrated Life, Religious Brothers Day, and Priesthood Sunday are all events through which the Church provides opportunities for the faithful to celebrate vocations. Some of these events are rath- er new, while others go back decades—for example, observance of National Voca- tion Awareness Week started in 1976.

Thanks to the efforts of lay groups and the USCCB, there are several ‘planning kits’ available online. Using these kits can streamline the planning process. These kits are often available in down- loadable format as ready-to-print PDFs. They typically include such items as prayers, liturgy planning guides, bulletin announcements, and cards.

Several such kits are available via the links in the next section of this summary, ‘additional resources.’ Additionally, since, as the Office of Vocations of the Archdiocese of New York has noted, “Our first pri- ority in promoting vocations is to pray,” that section includes links to vocations prayers to be used during the Prayers of the Faithful within the Mass—as well as the previously mentioned prayers.

Resources

Reference Materials:

From Vianney Vocations:
Priesthood Sunday Materials

Website devoted specifically to Priesthood Sunday—as supported by USA Council of Serra International (with resources including Priesthood Sunday cards—scroll down about two-thirds of the way down the main page; they’re in the right-hand column:
USA Council of Serra International – Priesthood Sunday

The Archdiocese of Atlanta, GA, offers excellent suggestions for Priesthood Sunday activities. (Scroll to the bottom of their page).
Archdiocese of Atlanta Priesthood Sunday Page

Serra SPARK Helpers©

List of Prayers of the Faithful for Priesthood Sunday
Prayers of the Faithful for Priesthood Sunday

A selection of customizable Priesthood Sunday greeting cards and a coloring page for school-age children.
Priesthood Sunday Resources for Children

Suggested parish bulletin inserts for Priesthood Sunday
Priesthood Sunday Bulletin Inserts

Serra Resources for Priesthood Sunday
Priesthood Sunday Celebration
Priesthood Sunday Spiritual Bouquet Tally Sheet
Priesthood Sunday Prayer Card Example 1
Priesthood Sunday Prayer Card Example 2
Priesthood Sunday Prayer Card Example 3

“Where there is life and fervor,
and a desire to bring Christ to others,
genuine vocations spring up.”

Pope Francis